Planned (Frum) Parenting

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15 Responses

  1. Alexandra Fleksher says:

    Thsnk you for this. You write, “When children are forced to uphold values that conflict with the children’s social setting, the rules can be quite disasterous.” Forget about eating or not eating in restaurants. More and more children (starting with the tween set) in Jewish day schools are given Internet devices (ipods, iphones, etc) by their parents. And there are some of us that are still sticking to our guns and will not bow. So will that yield disasterous results if this is quickly becoming more normative in many of our communities?

  2. Avrohom Gordimer says:

    Mrs. Fleksher: Thank you very much. I concur with you fully. The example of restaurants which I provided (mine, not from Rabbi Pechter) refers to an innocuous social activity that some people aver; however, things such as unsupervised internet devices certainly do not fit into this category, and my intent was not to include them and other potentially problematic things.

  3. Alexandra fleksher says:

    My question to you, Rabbi Gordimer, is how do we communicate that perspective to our children when more an more, they are feeling like outsiders from their peers who do have those devices? From their perspective, they feel they are being forced to uphold standards that conflict with their social setting.
    Thank you,
    Mrs. Fleksher

  4. Avrohom Gordimer says:

    Mrs. Fleksher,

    The easy, yet probably impractical answer, would be to have one’s children enrolled in schools/surrounded by friends for whom these devices are not common or allowed.

    The hard, yet probably practical answer (in my novice opinion), would be to explain that you have a different standard, as articulated by whichever Torah personalities your children revere, which does not feel that it is proper for them to have these devices.

    I urge you to consult with veteran mechanchim, though, for direct guidance.

  5. Bob Miller says:

    “If most children in a frum community or school are attending a certain learning camp, day camp or program, or are working as counselors at a specific group of camps, one should think twice before deciding instead to send one’s child to nature camp or to an overseas program, as this seemingly innocent and noble move can set the child off from the others and deny him the sense of continuity, relative normalcy and cohesiveness that binds, identifies and is shared by the rest of the group.”

    What if the summer pursuits of the frum peer group are things a student’s parents can’t afford?

  6. Avrohom Gordimer says:

    The article refers to a case in which the parent voluntarily opts to take a different path, rather than doing so for lack of affordability. Summer programs are among the most costly of educational expenses, surpassing school tuition once children are past preschool. It is a real problem.

    I do not think that the choice of summer plans will make it or break it for anyone, but it is rather the attitude or approach of parents who show inadequate concern for their children to have pretty much the same experiences as their peers which I feel is the issue. Again, no one seeks cookie-cutter molds, but I have witnessed cases of children falling out of the religious and social norm because their parents cared not to check what the rest of the kids were doing, and instead ended up isolating their children from the rest.

    • AS says:

      “While marching to one’s own drummer can more or less work in general society, in Orthodox society it is often a recipe for loneliness, future struggle and even failure.”

      I read this article with a heavy heart. It seems you are throwing in the towel on the possibility of Orthodox society being able to accommodate those who march to their own drummer and are telling parents they just need to accept it, and get on-board with conformity. This is a perfect recipe for having all those kids go OTD.

  7. G says:

    This article describes specific ‘frum parenting’ issues. There’s a foundational piece that’s not emphasized, though. Raising children requires enormous personal growth and a commitment to understanding the wonderful little people with whom Hashem has entrusted us. It’s an avodah in every sense of the word. There are skills and mindsets that go into navigating everyday life with children, and they don’t come naturally to many people. Parenting is much bigger than solutions to specific challenges. The way parents handle everything – from the oversleeping child who misses the school bus to the child who whines to the child who craves designer clothing to the child who clashes with the rebbi – sends crucial messages to their children. There are different approaches and different styles, but more than having chinuch ideologies, parents need to be dedicated to understanding and nurturing children’s growth as human beings – and yes, as frum Jews.

  8. Bob Miller says:

    Rav Gordimer commented, “Summer programs are among the most costly of educational expenses, surpassing school tuition once children are past preschool. It is a real problem.”

    Not only is it a problem, but that problem can cause the student with very concerned but not affluent parents to fall out of step with the richer frum students, if the rest of this article’s analysis is correct. Already, many families “have” to live in frum communities well above the parents’ pay grade.

  9. SA says:

    As for Shabbos davening, may I add that no man should decide without very careful consultation with a Rav (and then some additional thought) about davening neitz on Shabbos — however much “preferred” that may be halachically, especially if one has teenage sons.

    Speaking from experience and no little pain.

  10. Rafael Araujoberg says:

    SA – I agree with you. That also applies to a Shabbos/YT “hashkamah” minyan as well, which starts earlier than the regular Shabbos minyan (eg. 7:30 or 8:00 AM minyan vs. 8:45/9:00/9:15), where a pre-teen/teenager wants to sleep in on Shabbos after a hard week of getting up early for school minyan and therefore either davens at a later minyan, not with the father, or davens at home. Also speaking from experience.

  11. DF says:

    “It is crucial for every parent to have an experienced rav or a seasoned mechanech (Torah educator) with whom to consult for the multitude of issues that can arise.”

    I don’t agree with that, and that runs counter to Jewish parenting for millennia. All generations have their own problems, and it has NEVER been the norm for parents to consult with “a rav or mechanech” over how to raise one’s children. The problem with your suggestion is not merely that it is again just another facet of the tired “daas torah” debate (if that’s the word) over which there has never been, and never will be, consensus. Rather, you are suggesting that parents subcontract parenting decisions over their children to an outsider. Parents know their children better than anyone else. If you prefer a more “frum” formulation thereof, parents have a certain “siyata dishmaya” over their children that no one else enjoys. No rabbi or Mechanech knows one’s children like his parents.

    To the extent you emphasize that you merely speak of “consulting”, and not actually delegating responsibility – of course, it’s always a good idea to consult with others over anything. But this is simply common sense, and one can consult with anyone, not only rabbis or mechanchim. (Though for schooling issues, naturally, as opposed to parenting, the latter would have a good perspective.) There are many unsophisticated and Jews new to the religious scene who do, in fact, subcontract their parenting to rabbis, and the results are not infrequently disastrous.

    (DF: As I wrote at the beginning of the article, the article is not about general parenting techniques. For that, there is no replacement for the decisions of the actual parents, who must take responsibility and take the bull by the horns. Rather, the need for a rav or a mechanech is for the specific religious issues that the article addresses – issues that require specialized halachic or hashkafic training and experience. – AG)

  12. Steve Brizel says:

    Great article! I would suggest that Chanoch HaNaar lFi Darcho-as opposed to the hashkafa of the parents is a critical consideration, as well as parents on both sides of the Mechitzah who value Limud HaTorah, and Shabbos meals where Zmiros, Divrei Torah and recognizing the importance of both the need for for family only meals and Hachnasas Orchim , and learning with your children are priorities are among the key ingredients to successful chinuch and child rearing. Like it or not, we have to realize that we are passing on a Mesorah of Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim and the more importance that we stress in doing so, as opposed to merely relying on the school setting for presenting the raw materials so that a child can make his or her uninformed choice to chuck 12 years+ of Jewish education.

  13. Noam stadlan says:

    I agree with much of the article, particularly regarding schools. Some MO send their kids to right wing schools and the parents are surprised when the kids are taught to reject their parents’ hashkafot and minhagim. I would differ with respect to summer programs. Every child is different. If one wants to go do what everyone else is doing- great. On the other hand, children should be encouraged to develop their interests. They don’t need to be robots. Furthermore, at some point they will learn they there is a big world outside of orthodoxy and they will need to navigate that world. Summer programs are a good way for some kids to develop their interests as well as figure out how to find kosher food, make arrangements for Shabbat, etc. obviously it is a delicate issue of timing, but better to develop skills when the parents are near by and easily accessible than being thrown in with no life skills later on. Also, for those of us who believe that we are to be a light unto the nations, it is hard to do that when we do not interact with the people of the nations, and stay in our isolated conclaves.

  14. Steve Brizel says:

    Noam Stadlan-The reason why many parents of all hashkafos send their kids to summer camps is to implement on a daily basis such Midos as Achdus, etc, which sometimes seem like empty phrases during the course of a school year. Spending a summer in a Torah based camp for either gender IMO seems a far better way of transmitting hashkafa than placing a kid in a secular camp and expecting a kid to fend for themselves. One becomes and acts as a light to the nations first by inculcating a full committment to one’s own values and then learning to interact in the arena of higher education and work in a halachically and hashkafically proper manner.

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